Virungas and Northern Rwanda, Rwanda
Gorilla tracking in Parc National des Volcanoes, through the mountainous forest on the slopes of the Virunga range, is a magical experience. Seeing a mountain gorilla in its natural habitat is one of the world’s most thrilling wildlife experiences.
Trekking up the steep-sides of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park to stand face to face with a mountain gorilla is unforgettable and one of Africa’s great wildlife encounters. Watch as they lounge in the vegetation, eating bamboo shoots or forage for stinging nettles, with uncannily human movements. Youngsters play chase in a clearing, and babies clamber on their mother’s back, providing endless photographic opportunities. The trek to reach the gorillas can take anywhere from an hour to up to five hours, the duration depending on time of year and which gorilla group you have been allocated to visit. The lower slopes change from farmland to dense bamboo forest, moving through to stinging nettles and into lush rainforest vegetation. More often than not you are not on a set trail, instead following the guide through untouched forest, sometimes clambering over fallen tree trunks, all heightening the sense of adventure and anticipation. You are permitted one precious hour with these fascinating apes and this time flies by! Soon you’ll be returning back to your lodge, filled with a lifetime worth of stories and memories of this incredible experience.
Gorilla permits cost $750 per person and specific gorilla groups cannot be pre-booked, rather the park rangers choose which group you will see on the day.
There are strict gorilla tracking rules which include a maximum number of 8 visitors may visit a group of habituated mountain gorillas in a day. This minimizes behavioural disturbance to the gorillas and the risk of their exposure to human-borne diseases. There is also a minimum age requirement of 15. People are also not allowed to trek the gorillas if they are at all sick.
KIGALI GENOCIDE MEMORIAL CENTRE
Kigali and Central Rwanda, Rwanda
Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum should be on everybody’s must-do list when in the area. The memorial is a haunting but stark journey through one of the most savage genocides in history, that took place in this tiny, landlocked country.
This incredible Memorial Centre takes you through the story of what happened with enormous visual and emotional impact. It was opened on the 10th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, in April 2004. It is a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives in the genocide. The Centre includes three permanent exhibitions, the largest of which documents the genocide in 1994. Upstairs there is a room dedicated to the children of the genocide which cannot fail to move you and then there is an exhibition room covering other World Genocides. An experience that is exceptionally moving and a valuable insight into the atrocities that occurred, it takes you through the entire period, giving you a complete insight into the genocide in 1994 and the whole lead up to it, right from when the Belgians created the Tutsi and Hutu territories in 1918. This memorial centre is a true testament to how the country has recovered in the last 20 years.